Playing With Skincare Lasers

By Susie

  • I tried a skincare laser for my acne scars and melasma pigmentation
  • Depending on the skincare issue at hand, it's important to choose the right laser and use it at the appropriate intensity level 
  • Not for everyone, but read on if you're curious about skincare laser treatments!

As I sat in my dermatologist’s office, I realized that most of my skincare treatments seem to start with numbing cream. For someone who is not a big fan of pain, that was a somewhat concerning realization.

I started to wonder…can I have satisfying skincare without pain? Or does my guinea pig attitude towards skincare and high pain tolerance threshold mean I will always seek out the latest treatment available, albeit painful? This is the stream of consciousness that ran through my head as I sat there, yet again waiting 45 minutes for the numbing cream to set in.

What brought me to the chair this time? Well, after finally getting my acne problems under control I was left to deal with the scars and melasma pigmentation. I had done harsh professional grade chemical peels in the past with amazing results but the downtime was intense.

My skin would get raw and tight and then start to molt and shed. It’s hard to have a meeting with people when you’re shedding skin onto your desk like snowflakes falling. Except they’re not pretty snowflakes and instead your dead skin falling off your face with people staring back in horror. 

My dermatologist recommended getting a series of Clear & Brilliant Laser treatments. It’s non-invasive from my perspective and there is little to no downtime.  My doctor was telling me it would be effective in stimulating collagen, improving skin texture and color. It is a skin resurfacing treatment that uses pulsated, fractional lasers to slough off superficial layers of skin and reveal the fresh layer of skin underneath.

So how did it feel? Let me start by saying, I love my dermatologist. As in, “I wish we could be best friends like Oprah and Gail.” However, one thing she does that is not always wholeheartedly welcome is her tendency to make small talk during my treatments.  I’m not sure if it’s her clever strategy to distract me from the pain she’s inflicting on my face, but the last thing I want to do when I’m being injected with foreign substance or having acid poured on my face is talk about my weekend plans.

I will say with this laser though, I was pleasantly surprised and could carry on a conversation. The feeling is similar to the prickly sensation you get when your hand falls asleep. The feeling passes quickly as the laser glides over your face. It was at most mildly uncomfortable.

I left the office red and the color seemed to build hours later. By that night my skin felt like sandpaper. After about three days, the sandpaper skin sloughed off and I was left with soft new skin in its place. My skin felt firmer, my pores looked smaller and I had better tone and texture.

I asked Dr. Yoon about lasers and he agreed that they could be effective at treating pigmentation issues.  However, he cautioned that it’s critical to choose the right type of laser and use it at the appropriate intensity.  If the laser treatment is too strong, the pigment could become darker and worse. He even compared it to grilling a steak – just like you need a well-seasoned chef to get a steak cooked just right at well done, medium or rare, you need an experienced doctor to adjust the appropriate laser at just the right level to combat the specific skin issue at hand. 

For me, the overall results were a huge win. Considering the pain level on this one was not bad at all, I started to think maybe I could have it all – gratifying results without the torture?! I hear there are more invasive Fraxel laser treatments that are more intense and require significant downtime but deliver instantaneous and dramatic results.

For me though, doing the series of Clear and Brilliant made sense since the pain level wasn’t high, there was almost no downtime and I got buildable results.  Not something that’s right for everyone and no substitute for a daily skincare routine, but if you’re interested and daring like me, maybe start a playful investigation!